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Senate Again Weighs Whether to Repeal N.H. Buffer Zone Law

Sara Plourde/NHPR
Displayed is what a 25-foot buffer zone around Manchester's Planned Parenthood clinic would look like.

Lawmakers continue to debate whether to do away with a controversial 25-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in New Hampshire.  Last week a U.S. District Court judge denied a request challenging the law.

At a senate hearing on Tuesday, more than a dozen people gave lengthy testimony both for and against the bill.

Kayla McCarthy of the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund told lawmakers the law is necessary to prevent patients from harassment and verbal abuse. 

“The New Hampshire buffer zone strikes the balance between privacy and safe passage and the First Amendment rights,” McCarthy said.

But others argue the 2014 law prohibits people from having meaningful conversations with patients who may be wavering on their decision to have an abortion. Several people who protest outside Manchester's Planned Parenthood clinic testified on Tuesday. 

The bill passed the House last month by just eight votes. 

In June of 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a 35-foot buffer zone law in Massachusetts was unconstitutional. New Hampshire’s law has never been enforced.

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